BuzzFeed, the online news site that built a massive following off of news lists and cat videos, has raised $50 million for expansion that will making movies.
The capital was contributed by the leading Silicon Valley venture firm Andreessen Horowitz. The firm’s general partner, Chris Dixon is joining BuzzFeed’s Board of Directors and Kenneth Lerer, a co-founder of the company, will become executive chairman and adviser and work closely with BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti on company strategy.
The company’s editorial team will become BuzzFeed News, Buzz, and Life. Its video division will expand and become BuzzFeed Motion Pictures, which the company says will “focus on all moving images from a GIF to feature film and everything in between.”
BuzzFeed International, meanwhile, will expand to India, Germany, Mexico and Japan this year.
“Over the last decade, traditional media has been upended by technology, a disruption of the print, video, news, entertainment and advertising industries that is now accelerating at lightning speed. We created BuzzFeed because people still want to be informed, entertained, and inspired but the way they consume media has dramatically shifted. Today we think the time is perfect to grow our company, build our brand and greatly increase the content we are producing so we can be the number one digital media brand. The investment from Andreessen Horowitz will allow us to double down on our company’s mission by creating a new organization and expand rapidly in all areas,” said Peretti.
Buzzfeed started in 2006 as a kind of media lab experiment in viral content, focusing on its now-famous “listicles “and cute cat videos that were highly shareable. Twitter wags on Sunday night had already parodied the Buzzfeed news with tweets like: “17 Pugs With An Opinion on the BuzzFeed Valuation.”
As the site has grown to a stunning 150 million monthly users, Buzzfeed has hired more traditional journalists and tried to claim the mantle of higher-quality content, with mixed success. A senior editor was fired this summer for rampant plagiarism, underlining the difficulty in marrying tech-driven success with the values of traditional journalism.
Much of BuzzFeed’s traffic comes from social media, and most of its revenue — now reported to be in the triple-digit millions of dollars — comes from creating branded content. It includes custom video and list-style advertising content for brands that looks similar to editorial content. Under the expansion, BuzzFeed’s branded offerings will be centralized under BuzzFeed Creative.
The Walt Disney Co. was in negotiations earlier this year to acquire the media outlet famous for providing all of those lists about things you never knew you cared about, as well as serious, in-depth journalism. Apparently a $1 billion price tag was the main reason talks fell through.